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Old 02-12-2018, 09:53 AM   #1
rerednaw
 
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Default Please explain Imbuements to me?

I don't have the ruleset but other members of my party are using it. We are playing standard Dungeon Fantasy GURPS and so have starting characters with 250 points.

From what I've seen it seems to be a way to give martials spellcasting without IQ, Magery, or taking extra time. Is that the intent?

These are some of the uses I have seen:
Add enhancements (fire, acid, etc.) to a martial-based strike and attack during the same round.
Conjure ranged attacks that work like missile spells without taking a turn to create the effect. Skill levels of 15 are sufficient to make imbuement time zero.
Triple the striking strength (ST 12 ->14 through one effect and then 42 through a second) plus attack and do this every round.

The effects are definitely cinematic and seem to be a great deal with little downside. Having not to worry about MAD (multi-attribute-dependency) or extra time in the middle of combat is amazing.

Oh I have one more question: Are they subject to critical failure effects like spells or not?

Thanks!
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Old 02-12-2018, 10:10 AM   #2
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Default Re: Please explain Imbuements to me?

Not so much a way to replace spellcasting, though they could certainly be seen as magical powers. They might be chi, or divine paladin smiting, or whatever other flavor you might want to give them. You seem to pretty much have the general idea right.

Imbuements were invented as a way to address the problem of building (out of Advantages, Limitations, and Enhancements) a good way to build an ability that let you buff an ordinary melee attack -- say, a character that could make any sword he picked up burst into flame. That's not a property of the weapon, but of the character. And while you can build attacks easily enough, it's harder than you might think to build an ability that behaves exactly like the regular weapon rules, scaling with ST and so on.

The mechanics are somewhat similar to the Basic magic system in that you sink a fair number of points into a fundamental Advantage ("Imbue", rather than IQ and Magery), and then buy some number of individual skills that let you create particular effects ("Homing Weapon", "Chilling Strike", etc). The skills are mostly DX/VH so your ninjas or kung-fu fighters or paladins or elven spell-archers or whatever don't have to go too far out of their way to get good at them. But it wil cost a lot of points. (Imbue is 10/20/40 points, plus a bunch for those skills. So players will have to choose whether they want that flaming sword, or +2 DX to be more generally amazing.)

Using an Imbuement skill requires holding the weapon at ready, but it doesn't take an extra turn of Concentration. They're also not an enchantment in the sense that you can't make someone else's sword burst into flame, or make yours burst into flame and hand it to someone else to use. It's just a thing you, yourself, can do.
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Old 02-12-2018, 10:11 AM   #3
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Default Re: Please explain Imbuements to me?

There not nearly as versatile as magery but more combat focused.
Basically its a way to enhance a melee or ranged attack. They can be pretty powerful though.
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Old 02-12-2018, 10:28 AM   #4
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Default Re: Please explain Imbuements to me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rerednaw View Post
From what I've seen it seems to be a way to give martials spellcasting without IQ, Magery, or taking extra time. Is that the intent?
I wouldn't quite say that was the intent of Imbuements, no. Imbuements are designed to fill a previous hole in GURPS - that it was difficult to build the ability to enhance attacks made with mundane weapons.

They compete with magic abilities, certainly, though I'd say that imbuements are a) less flexible than magic, and b) generally less impressive for the same FP cost and skill level. The "less flexible" bit is simply a matter of magic being capable of almost anything, whereas imbuements are always going to be about buffing your gear. You won't see an imbuement capable of, say, the Create Fire spell, or Summon Elemental, or Invisibility, or Detect Magic, because none of those are logically things you could enhance an object to do as part of its intended purpose.

The "less impressive" bit comes from comparing spells to comparable imbuements. Take Incendiary Strike, for example. This imbuement skill adds a flaming aura to your weapon, adding burning damage to the normal weapon damage. The most obvious comparison is Flaming Weapon. Incendiary Strike, like all imbuements, costs 1 FP for every turn you use it, and by default, adds 1 point of burning damage to your hits. In contrast, Flaming Weapon costs 4 points to cast, but then lasts for a minute, and costs 1 point to maintain after that, and adds +2 burning damage. Now, Imbuements can be improved by buying up the skill - Incendiary Weapon allows you to increase the burning damage added by taking a penalty to the roll to activate it, and all imbuements allow you to take a -5 penalty to the roll to eliminate the FP cost. But more points in skill also helps magic - high skill reduces energy cost and casting time. Also, the spell has the advantage that it can be cast on anyone's weapon, whereas the imbuement is limited to the imbuement-user's weapon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rerednaw
These are some of the uses I have seen:
Add enhancements (fire, acid, etc.) to a martial-based strike and attack during the same round.
These are all valid uses of imbuements, yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rerednaw
Conjure ranged attacks that work like missile spells without taking a turn to create the effect. Skill levels of 15 are sufficient to make imbuement time zero.
Imbuements are always zero time, regardless of skill level. If the missile was equalling the power of the typical missile spell, however, the imbuer must have invested very heavily in either imbuement skills, or in having a weapon with a very high base damage. In the first case, similar investment in a missile spell would probably produce equal, if not better, effects, while in the second, I think it's reasonably balanced to allow a character who can do 2d impaling with a bow shot to change that to 2d burning if they want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rerednaw
Triple the striking strength (ST 12 ->14 through one effect and then 42 through a second) plus attack and do this every round.
I don't know of any published imbuement that would do this. The boost to basic ST I'm not familiar with at all. Tripling the ST sounds like the Power Blow skill, but to do so every turn, they'd be facing a -20 penalty to skill, so they've clearly invested a lot in Power Blow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rerednaw
Oh I have one more question: Are they subject to critical failure effects like spells or not?
They're certainly subject to critical failures. By default, a critical failure on an imbuement roll means you don't get the effect you wanted and you must pay 2 FP. However, if the imbuements are defined as magical, the GM could rule that they use the rules for magic spell critical failures too.
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Old 02-12-2018, 03:02 PM   #5
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Default Re: Please explain Imbuements to me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rerednaw View Post
From what I've seen it seems to be a way to give martials spellcasting without IQ, Magery, or taking extra time. Is that the intent?
Important note: Magery is replaced by an expensive buy-in advantage that gives no bonuses to skill rolls. Skill bonuses (ie Talent) is a separate thing that you have to buy on top of it. For even more points.

And yes, they suffer from critical failures appropriate to their power source. If they're "chi" powers, the wielder could become sick from imbalanced chi. If they're magic, critical spell failures are a risk. If they're clerical (paladin-style smite powers) they may not have significant critical failure drawbacks - or they have their own critical failure table.

Psionic abilities are so wildly variable from world to world that you'd have to ask your GM what happens.
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Old 02-12-2018, 09:58 PM   #6
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Default Re: Please explain Imbuements to me?

I didn't really "get" imbuements either after a quick skim of the book. Upon a closer read, how to game imbuements seems pretty clear. Using skills for power-like effects feels odd, but the book makes its case for doing so.

The further explanations in this thread are also helpful.

For me, what's missing most is the answer to this question: What well-known fictional characters/abilities are imbuements trying to address? Are there some good examples of "Imbuements are perfect for modeling X", where X is a movie character, a comic book superpower, a D&D ability, etc.?

I think specific examples from fiction/gaming would really bring imbuements to life for muddled minds like mine.
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Old 02-12-2018, 10:39 PM   #7
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Default Re: Please explain Imbuements to me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone View Post
For me, what's missing most is the answer to this question: What well-known fictional characters/abilities are imbuements trying to address? Are there some good examples of "Imbuements are perfect for modeling X", where X is a movie character, a comic book superpower, a D&D ability, etc.?

I think specific examples from fiction/gaming would really bring imbuements to life for muddled minds like mine.
I'm not sure I can think of any characters who use all imbuements, but that's because they're designed to model a pretty wide variety of effects. Some specific examples, though:
  • For movies/TV, you've got Wanted, which involves the protagonist being trained in secret assassin techniques that let him do things like curve bullets' paths in flight, or Naruto, which includes characters with the ability channel "chakra", the supernatural power source, into weapons to give them special properties.
  • In comics, you've got characters like Gambit, who can "charge up" practically any object with energy to make it explosive when thrown, or any number of manga characters who can do things with swords that no realistic person has any hope of accomplishing - Kenshin Himura, who can casually cut through stone objects with his sword, is a good example.
  • In RPGs, this sort of thing is actually quite common. One example that springs immediately to mind is the D&D Monk class, who can, at a certain level, treat their unarmed attacks as if they were magic weapons that can overcome the resistance of various creatures that can't be harmed by mundane weapons.
  • Video games also provide quite a lot of examples. A lot of the "ki attacks" in games like Street Fighter are quite nicely modelled as imbuements.
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Old 02-12-2018, 11:53 PM   #8
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Default Re: Please explain Imbuements to me?

Also the Heartbow in some cheesy made for TV movie, in the 70s I think.
Several Superheroes can benefit from limited Imbuements such as Captain America and Daredevil.
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Old 02-13-2018, 12:32 AM   #9
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Default Re: Please explain Imbuements to me?

Actually, on the superhero front, Green Arrow, Hawkeye, and other "super-archers" are also good candidates for imbuements. Certainly, in-universe, they're using special trick arrows for most of their stuff, but narratively, they always seem to have just the right arrow for the job. That could be modelled pretty well by giving them various imbuements (Binding Shot for net arrows, Crushing Strike or Fatiguing Strike for the infamous boxing glove arrow, and so on), and just saying that most of them can't be combined with each other.
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Old 02-13-2018, 01:00 AM   #10
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Default Re: Please explain Imbuements to me?

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Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
Also the Heartbow in some cheesy made for TV movie, in the 70s I think
The Archer: Fugitive from the Empire, 1981. One of the movies that got me into gaming in the first place, so it holds a special place in my heart.

I'll let the 'cheesy' line pass... because, well, it is very accurate. Very, very accurate.
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